The Ripper Street star Myanna Buring plays the lead in a dark new crime thriller inspired by Mark Billingham's novels
Prepare for plenty of twists and turns as Swedish actress MyAnna Buring stars as a troubled detective in four-part BBC1 series In The Dark. She explains what the thriller is all about...
Tell us about your character in, Detective Helen Weeks... "Helen is a detective and is very driven by her work. She is doggedly dedicated to unearthing the truth for a living, yet like all good heroines she has her own dark secret buried deep in her past. The series is very much a tale in two parts. In the first two episodes Helen's secret resurfaces to haunt her, and she must confront and face the demons from her past. Then in the last two episodes we join her as she wrangles with her present and her future."
She lives and works in Manchester, what brings her to the small town of Polesford? "Polesford is her hometown, but she left after her mother died and she has never returned. The place still haunts her in some ways. She sees the case of two missing girls from Polesford on the news and realises that the prime suspect is the husband of her best friend from school. This woman finds herself at the centre of a media hate storm, so she returns to try and help."
Is she officially on the case? "No, but like every good TV detective she finds a way of getting involved. She's a really complicated character and is capable of shifting with every situation. What attracted me to this part was how multi-faceted she was. Often you're given a couple of words to describe a character, but Helen can be anything. She's mercurial and tough, yet she's also very vulnerable. She definitely goes on a journey and it felt like a part I could really get my teeth in to."
What can you tell us about her relationship with Paul Hopkins? "Paul is a detective just like Helen and he knows how hard it is for her to return to Polesford so he comes with her for support. They appear to have a great relationship and be very much in love, yet there are some surprises coming up for both of them. Ben Batt, who plays Paul, was an absolute joy to work with and he's such a fantastic actor."
What do you hope the audience takes from In The Dark? "What I hope we have been able to achieve is a plethora of characters that audiences can really invest in. That they can go on a journey with, care for, be moved by. In this series, we are dealing with so many different issues and crises. It's a roller-coaster ride of a thriller. I feel very much that all the characters are real human beings. They are flawed, they’re not perfect and that is what makes them interesting – not only to play but also to watch."
The drama is based on the best-selling novels by Mark Billingham. What will his fans take from the series? "Mark Billingham has created this sprawling universe that is so suspenseful and he’s managed to create this across so many books. With In The Dark, Danny Brocklehurst has taken just a few of these stories and beautifully distilled them into four cracking high octane episodes. Readers of the books will recognise many aspects, but some things work on screen and some don't, and Mark knows that."
How did you prepare for the role? "As always, I get most of my information from the script. It was Danny’s script that informed the structure that I hung Helen’s coat on, so to speak. Then I went to Mark’s books to add in more layers. There were certain elements that had changed in Danny’s interpretation of Mark’s books and in this instance it felt good for me to know that difference and find a truth between the two. I also researched what pregnancy was like for different women. And then cherry-picked for myself what possible aspects fitted best with Helen's experience and what we needed her to be able to do. How pregnancy affected her physically and emotionally, how she would feel about being pregnant."
Have you ever had a 'bump' before on screen? "I've done plays where my character was pregnant, but never for TV. I've been asking everyone I know who's pregnant – and everyone I don't know – loads of questions and watching them walk up stairs, stuff like that. I’ve even asked a friend to get in and out of a bath for me so I can see what that looks like. You lose your core so sitting down is the most difficult thing. You don’t want to sit too deep in a sofa because you can’t get up!"
Did you research what it's like to be a detective as well? "A little bit. I found interesting a sort of gallows’ humour that exists within the police force. It seems characteristic of working in a job that isn’t always pleasant or easy. In order to deal with the horror, humour and sarcasm can be useful tools. I think this comes through in the script, too. Helen has a wry sense of humour."
What was it like working with French director Gilles Bannier and Norwegian director Ulrik Imtiaz Rolfsen? "With In The Dark, you have two stories that are absolutely connected yet they are very different. So to have two directors on board was actually really helpful. We got to really explore that difference. The police thriller genre is one that both the French and Scandinavians have done incredibly well and are well known for across the world. So it’s great to have a real celebration of that.
"We were interested to see if new things would come to the surface by having different directors look at this part of Britain with foreign eyes – if different elements would pop up in the storytelling. You'll have to watch and decide for yourself if you think it does."
In The Dark begins on BBC on BBC1 on Tuesday, July 11
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Sean has been writing about all things telly for over 10 years and in that time he's been lucky enough to interview stars like Ian McKellen, Tom Hardy and Kate Winslet. His favourite shows are The Great British Bake-Off, People Just Do Nothing and Succession and in his spare time he enjoys drinking tea, doing crosswords and watching football.
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